Buffy's Ongoing Recovery

Buffy, who mysteriously fell ill at the beginning of April, and who we all thought was a goner, seems to be having a miraculous recovery. Not that she’s 100% – but she’s alive and making progress everyday.

Two months ago Buffy showed sudden weakness in her legs/thighs to the extent that she couldn’t stand for more than a second or two. Cancer? Some internal organ disease? If it were any of these, we’d have seen a quicker change for the worse. It was suggested that perhaps she ingested something toxic. We do have vetch growing in the meadow, which can cause symptoms, but usually they’re more severe and lead to death. Perhaps a mold on some wild bird food that she got into? In any event, the treatment for eating something they shouldn’t, is to douse with epsom salts. There’s some excellent info at the Mississippi State University web site. So, I mixed up a teaspoon with an ounce of water and, using a syringe used for human infants, poured it down her throat. The idea is that the salts will settle in the gizzard and flush the system of toxins. It might have been too little too late to effect a sudden cure. However, today Buffy was sitting in a nesting box. She didn’t lay, but she did think about it. Just getting up there was something she couldn’t have done a few weeks ago! She’s also standing, albeit wobbly, for longer periods of time. The best indication that she is feeling better is that I saw her peck at another hen. Just because.

Meanwhile, LuLu got lost in the woods, and unfortunately, it was my dog Lily who brought her back. Lily doesn’t have the soft mouth of a bird dog, being mostly terrier, but she does have enough Border Collie in her to bring the hen into the yard. LuLu was a traumatized mess. Amazingly, although Lily had managed to pluck her of half her feathers, there was only one small puncture wound and some bigger skin wounds. She is now in the “infirmary” (a spare stall) and is recovering quite nicely. A chain drug store has everything you need for this sort of nursing. This is what I did:

  1. Wash with sterile saline and pat dry.
  2. Trim feathers that were overlapping the wound (careful not to cut into the quick).
  3. Apply the wound packing gauze that “melts” into weepy wounds.
  4. Smear with analgesic antibiotic cream.
  5. Keep in isolation, kept warm if the nights are chilly, in the cool shade if hot. At first, don’t use any bedding or it will stick to the injury. I put her in a guinea pig cage – nice and airy, but it limited LuLu’s motion.

LuLu is now bedded on shavings, has the stall to herself and has a roost. Of course, food and water. She’ll be there a long time, until her feathers grow back. I hope they do! Chickens are vicious about pecking at bare skin. LuLu is alert, calm and doing fine. She’s eating and drinking and pooping. I’m thinking about putting Buffy in with her for company. I’ll keep you updated…

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